Friday, November 1, 2013

Fostering Writing in the Library

Today, November 1, marks the beginning of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo exists as a dedicated time to encourage aspiring writers to sit down and finally write that novel that's been percolating in their minds. NaNoWriMo takes place every November, and it presents the perfect opportunity for libraries to consider how they foster writing among their customers.

At my library, we provide writing activities and spaces for the full age range of our customers.

Children - We have offered a variety of writing activities for preschoolers and school-age kids in our children's spaces and children's programs. We've had a "What We're Reading" wall on which kids can write the names of the books they're currently enjoying. We also have magnetic doodle boards out for simple writing activities. In programs, preschoolers have gotten to create their own books while school-age kids have talked about and written poetry several times.

Teens - At the request of several teens who started sharing their writing with one another while working the summer reading desk, our library now offers a monthly writing club. Each club opens with a brief writing exercise to get the juices flowing and serve as an ice breaker. From there, the hour-long club may include reading aloud from attendees' works, workshopping in small groups, and discussions about writing strategies and tips for working through writer's block. The teens have already formed a pretty tight-knit community of writers surrounding this club, which demonstrates this was a needed activity for the library to support.

Adults (and teens) - On Thursday evenings throughout November, my branch has booked our meeting room for open NaNoWriMo time. We'll set out tables and bottles of water, and any folks interested in pounding out some writing can use the space and enjoy some writerly camaraderie. Staff will check in on the space periodically, but this is mostly a passive programming initiative. Sometimes the only thing holding potential writers back is lack of designated space to write.

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How does your library foster writing among your customers? Any plans for NaNoWriMo?

*image from nanowrimo.org

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